Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB. USA, 1947. Selznick International Pictures, Vanguard Films. Screenplay by David O. Selznick, adaptation by Alma Reville, based on the novel by Robert Hichens. Cinematography by Lee Garmes. Produced by David O. Selznick. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by J. McMillan Johnson. Costume Design by Travis Banton. Film Editing by Hal C. Kern. Academy Awards 1947.
The worst film that Alfred Hitchcock made in Hollywood was this stinky drama that was part of his contract with producer David O. Selznick. Gregory Peck badly plays an English barrister who is defending a beautiful woman (Alida Valli) accused of murdering her husband. Peck takes one look at her and decides she must be innocent because he’s smitten with her, making a fool out of himself in every scene (if not to the other characters, then definitely to the audience). Louis Jourdan makes his first notable North American appearance as one of Valli’s staff members accused of having an affair with her. The best performances in the film come from Ethel Barrymore as the emotionally abused wife of judge Charles Laughton, and most especially from a marvelous Ann Todd playing Peck’s winsome wife (who really deserves to be treated better than having her husband ready to cheat on her after looking at Valli once). It’s pretty boring, and the plot goes nowhere many times before a fizzled ending that is easy to predict comes along. You’d be hard pressed to believe that trustworthy Hitch was behind this one if the stunning production values and wonderful camerawork didn’t give that away.